Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wailua Falls! Slowly I Turn...


I still remember the old Three Stooges skit. Someone inadvertently says, “Niagara Falls”, and another person (Moe?) goes bonkers, saying, “Niagara Falls! Slowly I turn. Step by step. Inch by inch…” and then he beats the bejeebers out of the first guy. Come to think of it, this routine may be even be something that was old when the Stooges got hold of it. Maybe it’s from the Vaudeville days.

Wailua Falls is taller than Niagara, but has a teensy bit less water. There was some discussion about this in my guide-book, and that’s what got me thinking about the skit. It’s one of hundreds, or perhaps thousands here on Kauai. Some are bigger, some smaller. Wailua is famous because you can walk-up, paddle-up or drive-up to it. In fact, the road goes right up next to the top of the falls. And this, of course, is the object of today’s run.

I venture out into the early morning darkness from the Kauai Marriott and onto Rice Street. I’m immediately faced with a huge hill that will take me up into the town of Lihue. There isn’t much traffic this early, but I know it’ll be getting busier about the time I return. When I do see some cars coming towards me, I head onto the sidewalk, and bleccch, face-first into some rather strong cobwebs that had been strung across the path, between some bushes. Strangely, I’d had this exact same experience whilst running this same course last Sunday. Even though I was going the opposite direction, it seemed like it was this very same spot. Hey, maybe it was the very same spider. If so, I’ll bet he’s mighty P.O.’d by now.

I make my way through town and down a big hill just before Ma’alo, the road to the falls. Based on my measurements when I ran this course four years back, I know that it’s 3 miles to this point, and then it will be 4 more to the falls at the end. When I ran this way the other day, I got here in 26 ½ minutes. Today it is 25 ½.

Relative to the volume and intensity of my running before coming to Hawaii, I’ve been running my ‘Okole off since then. It’s been two whole weeks of running each day, including a pretty solid mid-distance effort at least every other day. This run will be a solid one if my ‘ole legs can continue to handle this pace.

Now I’m on dark, dark Ma’alo Road. There are no residences the entire way, just shrubs, trees and an occasional happy cow-in-paradise. I brandish my little flashlight to see where the heck I’m going. The initial big hill slows me down for the first mile, but then I manage to pick it up again.

After 3 dark miles, I see some lights. They are coming from pickup trucks driving slowly and shining flashlights into the bushes on the sides of the road. I don’t quite understand – are they hunters? I’ve heard it’s wild boar hunting season. If that’s what’s going on, is it legal to hunt with flashlights? I do my best to not look boarish, or boaring. But I do try to be seen, and I say, “morning” as I pass by. I hear some response from a couple of the trucks, but I can’t quite hear what it is. I keep running.

Finally I reach the falls at the end of the road in 59 ½ minutes – 2 faster than the other day. Oh, what measurement and motivation can do. It’s barely getting light at 6am, and I stop to admire the falls and stretch just a bit. The wild chickens-in-paradise, of which there are many, have started to crow. Other birds have started to sing their exotic songs. I reflect a bit that Debbie and I have been to six out of the seven inhabited Hawaiian Islands. Kauai is fantastically beautiful, and full of bountiful wonders like these falls. Yes, it definitely ranks in the top six.

Now it’s time to go back the way I came. Down, mostly, into town, and then down to the Marriott. I pass by the hunters again, and there are even more of them now. Many are parked, but some are still “patrolling”. As I pass by the mile markers, I can tell that I’m almost achieving “eight-ness”. That’s no small feat for me these days, especially on these tired legs.

Going back up the hill into town slows me down, but once again I’m able to recover. I stop to admire the wonderful sunrise. The sky is aglow with pastel colors – blue, pink and peach to name a few. Now it’s back down the hill to the Marriott. My legs sure do ache, but I’m getting there. I reach the hotel in 57 ½ minutes – pretty solid.

Time to pack and return home to Ohio. With thoughts, of course, of returning yet another time.

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